Countian resigning as Pa. chief of insurance

Lancaster New Era

Attracted by a chance to return to the private sector, M. Diane Koken will resign after 10 years of leading the state Insurance Department, it was announced Tuesday.

The Manheim Township resident has accepted a nomination to the board of a national insurance company, which she declined to name. She expects to be elected to her new post in April.

Koken, 54, said she will step down as insurance commissioner effective Monday to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. She will serve as a senior adviser to Gov. Ed Rendell for several weeks.

“I love the job and I love the people I work with. They’ve been great. We’ve had tremendous accomplishments,” she said today. “But the time was right and the opportunity was right.”

Rendell named Randy Rohrbaugh acting commissioner. He will oversee a department with 370 employees and an annual budget of $790 million until a permanent successor to Koken is found.

Rohrbaugh, also a Lancaster resident, now is deputy commissioner for the department’s Office of Insurance Product Regulation and Market Enforcement.

Rendell, in a prepared statement, hailed Koken’s leadership in increasing the department’s efforts to protect consumers and regulate the industry.

During Koken’s 10 years, the Insurance Department conducted more than 7,000 field investigations and market-conduct examinations. These have led to nearly $317 million in civil penalties and restitution.

The department also responded to consumer complaints by recovering more than $69 million on their behalf, expanded the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and implemented the Mcare malpractice insurance abatement program.

During Koken’s tenure, the department also launched the adultBasic health insurance program for low-income adults, created a consumer liaison unit and boosted the department’s operational efficiency.

The department raised its level of technology too; its Web site now gets 40 million hits a year, up from 4,000 annually a decade ago.

In addition, Koken has been acclaimed for her efforts to help the state’s 1,500 surviving Holocaust victims and their families file insurance claims for property stolen by the Nazis. She is vice chairman of the International Commission for Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.

“I believed in what we did…,” said Koken. “Public service is really gratifying. I’m really glad I had an opportunity to serve the consumers of this state.”

Instead of working 13-hour days as insurance commissioner, Koken’s new role as a corporate board member will be part time. So eventually she’ll “be looking for other things.”

For the short-term, though, she wants to “take a month off and get my house organized, then decide what’s the next chapter. I’m not ready to retire. I like to be energized and I like to be challenged.”

A graduate of Penn Manor High School and Millersville University, Koken earned a law degree from Villanova University School of Law, then began a 22-year career at Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Philadelphia.

She was Provident’s vice president, corporate secretary and general counsel when then-Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, named her acting commissioner in mid-1997. She was confirmed as commissioner by the state Senate later that year.

Koken next served then-Gov. Mark Schweiker, another Republican, and Rendell, a Democrat, on her way to becoming the state’s second-longest serving insurance commissioner.

Rohrbaugh, a Penn State University graduate, joined the Insurance Department in 1994. He has been deputy commissioner since 2001.
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